The double-network (DN) hydrogel concept developed by J.P. Gong and Y. Osada builds upon interpenetrating networks by combining brittle and ductile components to have significantly enhanced fracture properties. The generality of the DN effect was tested by creating biopolymer-based hydrogels of methacrylated chondroitin sulfate (MCS) and polyacrylamide (PAAm) and extended upon creating DNs of MCS and poly(N,N dimethyl acrylamide) (PDMAAm), verifying that DNs were not limited to the original combination of poly(2-acrylamido-2-methylpropanesulfonic acid) (PAMPS)/polyacrylamide (PAAm). Further, the mechanical properties were varied by changing the monomer concentrations, cross-linker concentrations and the addition of cross-linking groups through copolymerizations of MCS and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA). Overall, this work demonstrates that a broad range of mechanical properties achievable through DN effect under tension and compression, generally independent of the swelling degree, which is fundamentally different behavior than possible with single networks.
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Suekama, T.C., Khanlari, A. & Gehrke, S.H. Tuning Mechanical Properties of Chondroitin Sulfate-Based Hydrogels Using the Double-Network Strategy. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1622, 79–84 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2014.72